Archive for January, 2010

2010 Mock Draft Version 1.0

January 31, 2010

It’s officially Draft Season here at the Nest!

Fortunately, we’ve had the pleasure around here of not having to start thinking about the next year’s draft until late January the past two seasons (unlike dismal 2007, where we started thinking draft around November-ish). Admittedly, we take a very unscientific approach to our mock drafts. I’m the first to admit that the true draft geeks amongst you, dear readers, would probably be better served getting your information elsewhere (Glenn Clark, for one). These posts are done knowing full well that 1000’s of variables will come into effect between now and the time the Ravens turn in their pick for the first round, and that literally anything can happen. However, that being said, chances are we won’t be appreciably further off on our predictions than any of the other “gurus” out there will turn out to be.

So, if you are just looking for some fun, informal information, we hope you’ll give us a look from time to time as the big April date approaches.

We now know that the Ravens will be picking 25th (in the absence of any trading to be done of course) this year.

As we typically do then, we’ll look at the 25th ranked player on some “big boards” from around the web.

Scouts, Inc.

Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State

Patrick Robinson

Scouts, Inc. has Robinson as their #2 ranked CB currently (Number 1 being Florida’s Joe Hayden). The senior, listed at 5’11” 194 lb, started 12 games for the Seminoles in 2009 and totaled 36 tackles while leading the team with 11 passes defended and two forced fumbles. He had six interceptions during his sophomore season in 2007, but then just 1 in 2008 and none in 2009. Perhaps this was a result of teams deciding to pretty much steer clear of Robinson after his big sophomore year, a la a Nnamdi Asomougha in the NFL.

Our take:

During the first half of the 2009 season, most Ravens fans would be overjoyed if you told them Ozzie & Co. would end up taking Robinson in the first round. The Ravens’ secondary was dismal up until the bye week. However, they really turned things on after that, as Dominique Foxworth picked up his game, and they started getting significant contributions from guys like Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb, Dawan Landry, and even Frank Walker (to an extent). Pass defense doesn’t look to be as high a priority for Owings Mills as it would have seemed in early October. The health of guys like Webb and Fabian Washington will also have to play into this equation. Foxworth’s big free agent contract is another issue, as the Ravens may be hesitant to tie up more first round money in a CB.

On the other hand, a strong young cornerback duo of Webb and Robinson could have the Ravens set at the position for years to come. Not to mention, Robinson rocks the dreadlocks like Webb does, and nobody can say no to having TWO be-dreaded guys in the defensive backfield.

Matt McGuire of

Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame

Golden Tate

Ah, Mr. Tate. This is one that is sure to have Ravens fans salivating. Tate is the fourth WR on McGuire’s board, behind Damien Williams of USC, Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State, and Brandon Lafell of LSU. Tate, entering the draft following his junior season at ND, does not have prototypical WR size, though, at just 5’11” 195. has this to say about Tate:

He is quick off the line and is able to reach top speed (4.44) within a couple of steps. Tate uses moves and hands to get off press coverage. With excellent straight up speed and quickness, Tate is able to make the first defender miss on regular bases. Tate has good, strong hands, and is routinely showing off his ability to catch the ball away from his body. He does not fumble easy and has played for a conventional, drop back passer his whole career at Notre Dame.

However, Tate needs to do a better job in the Red Zone. His footwork needs more polish and he is not the most physical wide out prospect. He tends to shy away from contact, and his route running also needs more development.

Our take:

Many Ravens fans would jump at the opportunity to have ANY first round WR talent on this roster, and there is no doubt, especially after the way the last two seasons have ended, that getting Joe Flacco more weapons needs to be at or near the top of the offseason priority list. However, we also need to be careful to not reach at WR – consider the last two wideouts this team has taken (and whiffed on) in the first round – Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton. Most agree that this draft class is stocked at the WR position, so waiting until round two or three may be the smart play here, rather than going with another sub-six footer on the outside.

That’s it for the first installment of Mock Draft ’10 here at the Nest.  There will be at least a few more in the coming months though, as we sift through the ridiculous amount of opinions floating around out there, so be sure to check back often.


NestMinder & Goob go to Indy (aka "America's Rest Stop)

January 26, 2010


You all know B’More Birds’ Nest commenter “Goob.” Last season, as you can see, Goob went to Nashville to watch the Ravens beat the AFC #1 seed Tennessee Titans in the Divisional round of the playoffs.

He had BEGGED me to go.

Because I was poor, and because I didn’t think the Ravens had much of a chance to beat the Titans, I passed. A decision I will regret, well, pretty much forever.

And so, this year, when the Ravens advanced to the Divisional Round again to face this year’s #1 seed, the Indianapolis Colts, I did not resist when Goob again started bugging me about going to the game.

Despite still being pretty poor, and knowing that the Ravens would need to play a near-perfect game to come out on top of the Peyton Mannings, I booked my trip to Indy – a place Goob and I will forever refer to as “America’s Rest Stop”

We all know what happened in the game – no need to rehash that mess here. I can, however, provide you with this fun little photo/video diary of the trip.

My flight to Indy had a layover in Chicago. When we landed, I could clearly see out my window that Southwest’s “Maryland One” jet was there at the gate. As far as I know, there is only ONE plane like this in Southwest’s entire fleet. One plane. And here it was, at this of all airports, during the short 60 minute window that I was in the Windy City.

Maryland One

I took this to be a VERY GOOD omen. Obviously, it was nothing of the sort. So much for superstition.

Upon landing in Indy, Goob picked me up in his rent-a-car, as he had arrived earlier that morning. I stepped outside to see him being harassed by the airport parking lady for loitering in the pick-up area. Sprinting to catch him before he was made to drive away and circle again, I got to the car just in time to hear him negotiating a deal with said parking lady that he could stay there, as long as he promised to give hell to any “Redskins fans” he encountered. Odd.

Anyway, we then drove to our hotel to check in. Needless to say, we (mostly he) got plenty of dirty looks on the way.

Goob Car

Indianapolis (at least between the airport and the Rock Lobster Bar) looks like Brooklyn Park. I think it’s fair to surmise that ol’ drunk Bob Irsay had no idea he wasn’t just outside of B’More when he decided that he wanted his team to play “here.” The whole thing was a big intoxicated misunderstanding.

Driving along, suddenly this monstrosity appears and DOMINATES the skyline.

F You Colts

It looks like a giant warehouse. Absolutely hideous.

We arrived at the Rock Lobster, which WNST had booked for a Ravens party, at about 2 PM. The game started at 8(ish). The next 10 or so hours are a blur, but at least we have the pictures to help jog the memory.


Rock Lobster 2

This next picture is out back of the Rock Lobster in the smoking area. Check out the crazy mural on the wall:


Here’s a close up, with either Peyton Manning, or just some dude in a Peyton Manning jersey. The latter is pretty ubiquitous in Indiana, so that’s probably more likely.

Mural 2

During the party, there was a Ray Lewis “dance-off.” When they announced the contest, Goob was the first to sign up. He went the extra mile, going so far as to switch out his Terrell Suggs jersey with another guy who he found in a #52, so as to make it more “authentic.” On my request, he ran across the street and found some grass to toss up in the air to add to the dance. He had it in the bag…or so we thought.

Goob and the rest of the contestants were under the impression that each was going to do the dance one time and then a winner would be chosen. Instead, a full-on five minute dance-off ensued. All contestants, full of greasy food and alcohol, nearly had heart attacks. Still, Goob should have won. And, had “Ed Reed” not busted out a secret weapon (more like a dirty trick – see the 5:41 mark), he would have. Ah well.

See Joe Throw

Signs handed out by Nasty Nestor. Alternative versions were “See Joe (Over)Throw,” and “See Joe Throw a fit at Cam Cameron on the sideline.”

We had fun.

The walk to the stadium was next. Nestor put together a huge walk-in, where all the Ravens fans met at a predetermined spot (on Maryland Ave. of course) and marched to the stadium together. It was a very cool thing to be a part of.

Lucas Oil Stadium

This place sucks. If you want to play football inside, join the arena league, you damn women.

Mall Stadium

Inside the mall, er….stadium. Are you ready for some foot-mall?!?!


Our nosebleed seats. After the first kickoff the Ravens returned, when L.J. Smith got the block in the back that negated the huge return, I went ape shit. As a result, a guy in a yellow security jacket came and sat directly behind us for the remainder of the game. Lame. I’m still not convinced I did anything “wrong.”


This guy is a toolbag. He took a picture of Goob looking sad, so I took one of him. Goob’s hat is no stupider than that dumb looking thing on Peyton’s head there. If you know this guy, tell him to do this.

That’s about it for the diary. One more interesting note, though – Goob and I were sitting in the terminal waiting for my flight, watching “The Incredibles,”

Goob Airport

when a family walked into the kid’s area with us. Dad, mom, teenage girl, pre-teen boy, and another younger boy. The dad looked like any normal suburban dad. With his attire and general appearance, he could have been an architect or an accountant or something. However, after doing a double take, I immediately recognized him as this guy:


That’s right.

Matt freakin’ Stover.

You know, the guy who WON that game that I mentioned at the top of the post for the Ravens last season? Who the Ravens decided not to bring back?

Yeah, that guy was riding the flight HOME to Baltimore with me. As I sat across from the Stover family in gate A7 at the Indianapolis Airport, three members of the clan reading the Sports section of the Indianapolis newspaper (of course emblazoned with a headline about the Colts victory the night before), I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of the situation.

I couldn’t make this up.

If the Colts do indeed win another Super Bowl next week in Miami (and I fully think they will), at least we Ravens fans can take solace in the fact that #3 will have himself another ring.

Or not. Whatever. Now I’m all angry and crap again.

Markakis on FBI's "Most Wanted" List

January 25, 2010

Something tells me that Nick al-Markakis may have some trouble getting to road games this season.


"G*D Damn It, Donald!" – Peyton Manning

January 22, 2010

First off, credit where it is due: Thanks to B’More Birds’ Nest Heel Christmas Ape for the following video.

Make sure your sound is on:

Some good footage there of one of the, oh, three or so plays the Ravens actually made last Saturday. Knowing that they frustrated ol’ Pey-Pey at least once is something, I guess.

Conference Championship Shmampionship

January 21, 2010

It’s a Nick-A-What?! & NestMinder Special!

With the Ravens season officially over, Nestminder and I have decided to pick up where we left off 2 years ago. Predicting playoff games! The last time we did this in 2007-2008, the Ravens missed the playoffs so it made it a little extra exciting to watch.

As you should know (if you’re reading this you’d better know) that there are only 3 games left in this NFL Season (the Pro Bowl is not a game). How disappointing is that? With all the talks of the 18 game regular season and opening up the league to London, can it be that bad of an idea?

Short answer – yes. Look at some of the talent at QB this year. JaMarcus Russell, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Boller, Josh Johnson, Josh Freeman, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Bruce Noll; how awful is that? More teams? More games? More blowouts? Yes. I’d love it. Why not right? As long as your favorite team isn’t one of those, you’re in good shape. Moving along…

Colts -7.5 v. Jets

Nick-a-What?! says: Jets +7.5 – So… despite the Colts possibly making the biggest F.U. mistake of their football lives, by folding over at the end of the year and allowing the Jets to make the playoffs (oh the irony!), I have to keep reminding myself that with only 3 games left, I want the most exciting matchup possible in the Super Bowl. Gotta make the most of what you can get right? So, I gotta root for the Colts to make the Super Bowl.

Watching Dirty Sanchez march into Miami with that cast of hard running RBs and stellar Defense simply would not make for a thrilling Super Bowl. No chance that he could lead a 2 minute drill game winning FG/TD against anyone, let alone in the Super Bowl.

Therefore I will be rooting for and I expect the Colts to win. Peyton throws TDs like Dan Snyder throws out coaches. Gotta go with experience in such a big game, that being said… Jets still cover.

Colts 23 Jets 16

Nestminder says:  Colts -7.5 – Last week, leaving the hell-hole that is Indianapolis and their warehouse of a stadium, Ravens fans instantly became Chargers fans.  The Colts fans were absolute douchebags after the game.  Now, I’m sure I invited some of it inside the stadium, and I have no problem with people giving me a hard time in there.  But after the game, just walking around trying to find a cab and not bothering anyone, it was like being in Cleveland.  Never let anyone tell you that Indy fans are friendly.  This is a lie.  And so, like I said, we instantly started salivating at the thought of San Diego once again knocking Peyton & Co. from the playoffs.

Of course, ol’ Norv Turner was to have none of that, and now the Colts get to warm up for the Super Bowl against the Jets.  I don’t see how this game will be close.  The Jets’ offense is the Ravens’ with even LESS of a passing threat.  If the Ravens couldn’t run the ball on the Colts, the Jets won’t find any holes either.  That Colts’ D is just too fast on the rug.

If the Jets are to have any shot, they need to get after Peyton.  On the few occasions when the Ravens blitzed last week, Manning folded like a lawn chair.  Greg Mattison, however, played scared and decided to sit back in coverage and let Peyton pick his defense apart.

Rex Ryan doesn’t know the meaning of “playing scared.”  He will bring the heat on #18 from the opening whistle.  If his blitz-heavy tactics work, have another shot Ravens fans, as what you’ll be seeing COULD have been the purple a week earlier.

Colts 23 Jets 10

Saints -3.5 v. Vikings

Nick-a-What?! says: Saints -3.5 – As a kid who grew up loving sports, there is nothing more important than seeing players have fun on the field – besides your favorite team winning of course. But as I got older and my favorite team got worse and worse you reach for others to root for, and two of my favorite players growing up were Barry Sanders (of course) and Brett Fahhhvruh.

Every day I played backyard football, making ridiculous spin moves and running backwards all the way across the field to try and avoid being tackled like Barry, and when I’d play QB, I’d throw passes with my laser rocket arm and then run down the field with my hands in the air, throwing fists, pointing to the sky then I’d pick up my receiver and carry him around the field like he was a sack of potatoes.

But now, I don’t play too much backyard football, in fact the last two times I’ve played, one guy left with 6 stitches in his mouth and another guy left with a torn achilles tendon.

We’re old. Lets face it.

When we get old we can’t make Barry Sanders moves without leaving our hips stuck in the turf and we can’t carry around our friends on our backs unless we plan on a ruptured disk in our backs and of course we turn to the NFL to make those moves for us and make us say, “Hoooooly Shit that was awesome, I remember when I could do that.”

That being said…I now loathe Brett Favre.

What I neglected to mention above, was that what also attracted me to these players is that they were FRANCHISE Players. They stayed in freezing cold shitty cities and did their job. They played hard no matter what and were one of the best at the their trade. Then Barry retired unexpectedly and years later Favre retired, then he didn’t then he did, blah blah blah, he put his team in a shitty position of not being able to move on with or without him. So he cried wolf one too many times and he got traded. Then after a year of playing in freezing cold weather, he wound up in Minnesota, where he was linked to for years and years by the professor John Clayton at the minimum. Then he screwed his old team and city over to make a dump truck load of money and now he’s a game away from the Super Bowl.

Screw Brett Favre. Which sucks, cause I like Minnesota’s young talents – Rice, Harvin, Peterson, Long Dong Shiancoe. Besides, New Orleans will hang 90 on them. Plus, I’m rooting for the most exciting Super Bowl possible. Saints v. Colts! Then I wouldn’t really be too sad regardless of who won. I don’t want to have to root for the Colts over Favre.

Saints 90 Vikings 28

Nestminder says: Vikings +3.5 So, which team will earn the rights to play the Colts in the Super Bowl? In what looks to be an infinitely more competitive game on paper, the Brett Favres match up against the Breesuses.

Six weeks ago, I would have been all for a Colts-Saints Super Bowl. That is, of course, if they had both remained undefeated. Instead, the Colts tanked and the Saints fell apart down the stretch, but the bye week between Wild Card and Divisional weekends seemed to serve them both well. The Saints plastered the Arizona Cardinals last week.

I’d still like to see the Saints win, just because there is nothing to hate about them (except maybe Kim Kardashian). I just don’t see them moving the ball against that Minny D, who absolutely stifled Tony Romo’s Cowboys last Sunday. Jared Allen’s mullet, along with the Fatty Williamses, won’t have quite as easy a time against New Orleans, but the Saints will be nowhere near the 90 Nick-a-What?! predicted, or even half that amount, for that matter.

That’s right, it’s going to be a Manning-Favre Super Bowl. The talking heads are likely to explode…so at least one good outcome may arise as a result.

Vikings 27 Saints 23

ESPN Gets in on the "Low Blows"

January 20, 2010

We’re all very familiar by now with the “it’s not a low blow, just a fact,” catch phrase of WNST’s Drew Forrester. Drew borrowed it from Ian Eagle (I believe?) of CBS, who, while covering a Ravens game a few seasons back, made a pointed remark when the cameras were showing an overhead shot of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

That remark went something like this (paraphrasing): “There’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, but they don’t play baseball there in October any more. That’s not a low blow…just a fact.”

Well, last night on ESPN, I saw Jeremy Schaap get in on the act.

The topic at hand was this week’s game between the Indianapolis Mannings/Irsays/Whatevers and the New York Jets, a “rematch,” if you will, of Super Bowl III. Schaap talked about how the rivalry between the two cities was much more fierce last time around, when it was Baltimore rather than Indianapolis lining up against the team from the “Big Apple.” As evidence, he mentioned the other Baltimore-New York sports rivalries from 1969. In addition to the football team being upset by New York in the Super Bowl:

The Baltimore Bullets would lose to the New York Knicks in the 1968-1969 NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

The Baltimore Orioles would lose to the New York Mets in the 1969 World Series.

In contrasting 1969 with 2009-10, Schaap pointed out how Baltimore no longer claims the Colts nor the Bullets.

Those are obviously facts, not low blows.

Then, though, the “low blow” came into play.

Schaap said (and I’m again paraphrasing), “Baltimore no longer has the Colts or Bullets, and, some would say, no longer have a baseball team.”


Sure felt like a low blow to me. One of the “SportsCenter” anchors, after Schaap’s piece was finished, asked the listening audience if they had caught the “cheap shot” that he threw in against the Orioles.

Yes, we caught it (at least in Baltimore).

The sad part is, we can hardly argue with it.

Colts 20 Ravens 3 (The EIGHTH STRAIGHT LOSS TO INDY Game)

January 19, 2010

What is it about the Ravens that seems to bring out the best in the Colts’ defense time and time again? Year after year, Indy has a dog-crap defense, and year after year, that dog-crap defense looks like a mighty combination of the 1985 Bears and 2000 Ravens when the boys from B’More line up against them.

The particulars this time around? The Colts had the 18th-ranked defense in the NFL, and were 24th against the run. They gave up 100-yard rushing days to Maurice Jones-Drew, Ronnie Brown, Steven Jackson, Thomas Jones, Chris Johnson, and Fred Jackson. Frank Gore had a 91-yard day, and MJD had another 97-yard performance.

On Saturday night, the Ravens’ leading rusher, Ray Rice, managed just 67 yards. In the earlier meeting this year, you’ll remember, it was 71 yards. Le’Ron McClain and Willis McGahee were non-factors, with just four carries for 10 yards combined.

The Ravens failed to score a single touchdown in two full games against the Colts in 2009. In their 2008 meeting, it was the same story. In the 2006 Playoff game? Nary a touchdown scored.

This problem…of being absolutely offensively inept against Indianapolis, now spans several head coaches, and even more offensive coordinators, starting quarterbacks, and leading running backs. It defies logic. Here, Tony Lombardi makes the nauseating argument that the Ravens have NOT SCORED A SINGLE MEANINGFUL TOUCHDOWN AGAINST THE COLTS SINCE 2002!

So sure, we all remember that Peyton Manning never loses to the Ravens. But, in reality, these losses to the Colts are usually just as much on the shoulders of the Ravens’ offense as they are Indianapolis’.

I don’t really have any desire to dig a lot deeper into the Ravens’ dud of a season-ending performance. Those of us who watched the team all season knew that they had far too many issues to be serious Super Bowl contenders. After watching them destroy New England, we told ourselves that maybe, just maybe, they could catch lightning in a bottle and go on a nice little four-game run. In the end though, it was those same issues that were so obvious all season that reared their ugly heads to doom the Ravens.

The ridiculous penalties at inopportune times. Saturday, it was L.J. Smith, Corey Ivy, and Ray Lewis.

The lack of any big-play threats in the passing game. Demetrius Williams reminded us Saturday night why the Ravens are likely to let him walk after the season – his inconsistencies outweigh his considerable upside.

The inability to FINISH in the final minutes of any half. I’ll share another link here – Glenn Clark goes into painstaking detail about how the final five minutes of halves basically caused just about every loss piled up by the Ravens in 2009.

After reading that, we should all be able to agree that John Harbaugh’s main focus this offseason needs to be learning how to more effectively manage the final minutes of halves. Ozzie needs to figure out a way to get Joe Flacco some real weapons besides Ray Rice, so that he can continue the progression that seems to have halted about midway through this season.

We’ll use the next few months leading up to the draft to talk more about the team’s offseason needs.

And, some time this week, I’ll post some pictures and videos from the Nest’s trip to Indy.

I'll Get to it

January 18, 2010

For now…


Divisional Playoff Preview: Ravens @ Colts

January 15, 2010

Ravens Colts Playoff

Ravens Colts Stats 2

Another season, another trip to face the AFC South winners, holders of the #1 overall seed in the AFC. Can the Ravens repeat the huge upset they pulled last year in Nashville against the Titans? Methinks yes. Let’s look at the reasons why…

Peyton Zulu

1. The Colts’ regular season dominance will again hurt them in the postseason

The Colts won more games than any other team 00’s. However, as of right now there are two teams who have won more Lombardi Trophies than they did (Pats, Steelers) and three others who have won just as many (Ravens, Buccaneers, Giants). All their regular season victories have not translated into January and February success. In fact, at times they have been so dominant during the regular season that they have locked up the #1 seed early enough that their last game or two has been meaningless. Every time that such a scenario has played out so far, they have lost their first playoff game. That’s right; Peyton Manning and his Colts are 0-3 in the Divisional Round during years in which they had a bye during the Wild Card round. Their only Super Bowl win came in 2006, when they were forced to play a Wild Card game.

This year, the Colts wrapped up the AFC’s #1 seed on December 13th (Week 14). They then played to win one more time, four days later in Jacksonville. They did this only to set the record for most consecutive regular season wins (Edit – they had already broken this record the previous week.  So, Bill Polian is not only a shithead, but he can’t count either). Since then, they have played a game “in anger” exactly zero times. They took their starters out in Week 16 against the New York Jets, and promptly lost any chance at an undefeated season they may have had (more on that later), and laid a stinker in Buffalo in Week 17, finishing up at 14-2. Tack on last week’s bye, and it will have been one day short of a full month since the Colts last tried to win a football game.

The Ravens, on the other hand, have been fighting for their Playoff lives all season. Under intense pressure to win, they came out on top in three of their last four in the regular season and then pounded Tom Brady and the Patriots in the Wild Card round. If not for a few costly drops in Pittsburgh in Week 16, the good guys in purple would be riding a nice little five game winning streak.

It will take the Colts at least a quarter to get re-acclimated to game speed, and part of me believes they will not be able to match the Ravens’ intensity at any point during the 60 minutes. If the Ravens can start fast like they did in New England (not necessarily 24-0, but 10-0 or 14-0), the thought of “here we go again” will force itself into the Indy psyche.

2. Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and Le’Ron McClain

The Colts were 24th in the NFL stopping the run, allowing 126.5 yards per game. Sure, these three managed only 100 yards combined in the Week 11 meeting, but that was back when the Ravens still had no offensive identity. Now that they are fully committed to being a pound-it-down-your-throat running team, they should have much less trouble pushing around the Colts’ undersized front seven. In four of the last five games, one of the Ravens’ rushers has topped the century mark – Ray Rice three times (166 vs. Det, 141 @ Pit, 159 @ NE) and Willis McGahee once (167 @ Oak).

The formula for success against Peyton Manning is the same as it’s been pretty much his entire career – keep him off the field as much as possible, and when he is on it, move him off his “spot.”

The Ravens’ running game will go a long way to fulfilling the first ingredient in that recipe. As far as the other…

3. The return of the Ravens’ pass rush

There is no denying that the Ravens have had trouble getting to the quarterback at times this season. However, over the last several games, they seem to have figured things out a bit.

In Week 16, they sacked Ben Roethlisberger four times – 3.5 came from defensive linemen
In Week 17, they sacked Jamarcus Russell three times and caused him to fumble once – all 3 were from defensive linemen
Last week, they sacked Tom Brady three times and caused him to fumble once – Two of 3 were from defensive linemen

So, not only are the Ravens now getting to quarterbacks, they are doing it without being forced to blitz the house. This latter point is huge against Peyton Manning, who eats blitzes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Peyton Manning BEGS you to blitz him. If the Ravens can pressure him, get his feet all nice and happy, and move him off of his spot, he will become very average very quickly.

Guys like Dwan Edwards, Kelly Gregg, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, and Antwan Barnes, who have picked up their games recently, need to keep it up Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Throw in the occasional well-timed blitz by Ray Lewis (who is much better served rushing the passer than say, trying to keep up with Dallas Clark in the middle of the field), and hopefully the Ravens will be making Peyton very familiar with the turf.

3(b). The Ravens’ Secondary

This point goes hand-in-hand with the last one. Since the Ravens’ front has been getting to passers, their formerly dreadful secondary has suddenly come alive. Dominique Foxworth has started to live up to his huge free agent contract over the last month or so. Chris Carr, filling in for the injured Lardarius Webb, has improved every single game since becoming a starting CB. Hell, even Frank Freakin’ Walker was making plays last week in New England. When Walker is batting down passes, instead of having flags heaved in his direction, you know things are going well.

The Ravens picked off Manning twice in Baltimore in Week 11. They won’t have the advantage of crowd noise that they enjoyed in Charm City, but the play of the aforementioned guys, along with Dawan Landry, has improved dramatically since even that mid-season contest. If they continue their strong play, that should more than make up for the fact that Manning will be operating in his cozy home confines.

4. Michael Oher and Jared Gaither

These two won our “Play Like a Raven” award in Week 11, as they kept the Colts’ fearsome twosome of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis completely shutout of the stat sheet. We all know from those investment commercials that past success is no indicator of future performance and all that, but it’s good that the Ravens’ young tackles will have some confidence going up against such an intimidating opponent.

Freeney, who said at the end of “The Blind Side” (book, not movie), “You tell Michael Oher I’ll be waiting for him,” will have another chance to back up those words.

Unfortunately, as far as the Ravens are concerned, he may have a much higher number of chances than he did in the previous meeting.

Freeney usually lines up on to the quarterback’s left (the “Blind Side,” naturally), while Michael Oher has spent the majority of his rookie season playing right tackle. However, Jared Gaither’s status for Saturday is still up in the air. If Gaither cannot go, Oher would again move to the left side. What happens on the right side would then also be undetermined – the Ravens could put Oneil Cousins at right tackle OR move Marshal Yanda from right guard to right tackle, and reinsert Chris Chester at right guard.

Gaither did fully practice on Thursday, but would not talk to reporters about his injury. Cross your fingers that he is able to go.

And now, for some silly reasons:

5. Karma

The Colts’ brass’ decision to forego the chance at a perfect season really sucks. It sucks for their players. It sucks for their fans. It sucks for fans of football in general. It sucks for anybody who gets sick of seeing that old curmudgeon Mercury Morris vindicated every damn year. It just…really sucks.

The Colts’ players were visibly distraught on the sidelines in Week 16 after the starters had been removed. Watching their chance at history go up in flames obviously did not sit well.

Understandably so.

Imagine being Peyton Manning. You’re constantly compared with Tom Brady. You hear all the time how the two of you are 1-2, in some order, among quarterbacks of this generation. Those that argue for Brady point to his postseason success as the deciding factor. Tom Brady was two minutes from posting a historic 19-0 season. He failed.

Now, you have the chance to be the one that goes 19-0. If you can win your second Lombardi Trophy, and go 19-0 in the process, something ol’ Tommy was unable to do, you’ll win. YOU will be the one that did what Tom could not. YOU will now be the undisputed best.

And then Bill Polian goes and takes all that out from under you.

How would you feel if you were Peyton? Deflated, I’d say, to put it mildly.

The other 44 guys wearing horseshoes on their helmets Saturday might not be dejected to quite that level, but they’ll still be a bit less motivated, to one degree or another, than they would have been had they finished the regular season 16-0.

Aside from that, the Colts NEED to lose at some point this postseason for the sake of football fans everywhere. If they win the Super Bowl, after deciding to rest their players and not try for 19-0, it will deprive us of the chance to see any team try to be perfect in the future. The Colts CANNOT be allowed to set the precedent that resting your players, even with the perfect season on the line, is the way to go, or other teams will surely follow.

Roger Goodell says there is “no solution” to teams resting starters. Yes there is: BEAT THE HELL OUT OF THOSE TEAMS. Prove, time and time again, that you cannot just turn the competitive edge on and off like a light switch.

SOMEONE needs to beat the Colts this January, for football fans everywhere. Might as well be the Ravens.

Oh, and of course there’s those whole stole-our-team then knocked-us-out-of-the-playoffs-in-2006 karma that needs to be repaid.

6. Nestminder in da house

Finally, the Ravens will win because I’m going to my first postseason road game. I’m ridiculously pumped to go to Indy, and judging by the fact that I had to book my flight out of Dulles, due to all Baltimore-Indianapolis flights being booked, I am very eager to see just how well the purple is represented in the Midwest.

I’ll be at the WNST pre-game tailgate party at the Rock Lobster, and if you’re in Indy, you should be to. Hope to see you there.

I’ll have plenty of pictures, and hopefully some videos, of the trip next week. Hopefully (come on, come on, COME ON) they will be celebratory in nature.

Ravens 24 Colts 20

Zoo Animals Show Colts No Love

January 14, 2010

I’m an unabashed animal lover – always have been. And so I really enjoyed, this video, from the good people at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

If I had one critique of the montage – using the tortoise for Ray Lewis is probably just asking for some stupid jokes about him being old and slow. Otherwise, good stuff. Especially loved seeing the McGahee stiff-arm again. What a thing of beauty.